Sunday, August 25, 2013

For Those Who Wait

I watched as she explained the news in Tagalog. The room was filled with people, Filipino and white. English would have been understood, but news like this must be shared in the heart language.

I watched their faces… the embarrassment at being the center of attention, the mind trying to comprehend and process what they were being told. Their eyes moved from her face to the pictures in front of them.

This is your family.

How could a heart so young understand something like this?

How could they possibly know what this will mean when their world has consisted of the dumpsite they used to call home and now these four walls.

And I watched the rest of their faces. The other little ones who will still be here when they are gone.

Some cried tears because they will miss their best friends, and as beautiful as it is, adoption is hard.

And some cried the tears of the left behind. The pain of it’s not yet my turn.

They pray for families.

Each child, regardless of whether or not he or she can fully understand what this will mean… they all pray for families.

And they wait.

One little boy verbalized his desire for the first time this week… at least, it’s the first time I heard him say it out loud.

This little boy is ten years old. He loves to play cards, basketball, and action figures. He wins medals for running track, is vice president of his class,  and he is brilliant in school.

And he just wants a family.

There is the large sibling group of five with the big brother who wraps his arms around his sisters protectively. He watches over them, holding their hands when they go to the park, always on his guard to defend them. He’s the kind of big brother I wish I had.

And they just want to be together.

They will. They will stay together because we don’t separate sibling groups.

But they don’t understand how much harder this will make for someone to say yes.

And they’re waiting for someone to say yes.

I can give you 74 stories.

I could show you 74 pictures and give you 74 names.

God knows there will be more.

But to you, those stories, names, and pictures will remain that way unless He grabs a hold of your heart.

Do you understand that these precious little ones are waiting?

Living with them, seeing them every day, one would think that I would always be aware of this fact. But sometimes I need to be reminded, too. 

I have seen more clearly in the past week how His heart beats for them. Our God stands in the gap on behalf of them, restoring them in the deepest places we cannot even imagine.

One of our big girls sang a song for our visitors. Six months ago, she never would have done that.

One sweet baby boy let himself come near the new faces in his space, and he didn’t fall apart. Three months ago, he would have screamed in agony.

They are healing. Yes, there are issues and moments of pain. Yes, the issues resurface as the little one cries out, “Will you still love me if I am like this?”

But there is beauty. So much beauty that I miss.

God, help me see the beauty.

Oh, how His heart beats for them.

He sets the solitary in families. He defends the fatherless, the ones left without someone to defend them.

Why would He not move mountains on their behalf to bring them the families they deserve?

You may not be ready to welcome a little one, but maybe a little one is ready for you.

Maybe God is tugging at your heart, asking you to put away the excuses and trust.

Maybe He asks that you take the first step and simply follow, allowing Him to do the rest.

Now, I know it is not really that simple. There are finances to consider, things to get in order, budgets to plan, and the next 18 years that will require more commitment and sacrifice.

And it’s going to be hard.

Of course it is going to be hard!

Adoption is one of the most visible representations of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. The Enemy will do everything He can to plant the seeds of doubt…

You can’t afford this…

What about your retirement plans…

Your  “real children” will suffer…

You have enough issues as it is. How could you possibly parent a child like that?

You aren’t good enough…

You will never get approved…

You are too old…

Your adopted child will hate you…

What if he/she has problems beyond your control?

Oh, He loves to plant doubt and destroy the dreams of the Lord.

And do you know what the Enemy will whisper to their hearts?

You are not worth it...

A new family will abuse you, too...

No one will ever want you, love you, choose you...

You are too much...

You will always be an orphan...

If your own mother couldn't stay, why would someone else...

You can't trust anyone...

God doesn't hear you...

 But my God is bigger than the lies. 

My God is able to supply all needs.

My God is Mighty to save.

My God will move heaven and earth for the sake of His little ones.

I can tell you first hand that when children pray, mountains move.


I can also tell you the story of a little boy who was placed in my arms three years ago. This little boy has a piece of my heart that will never be replaced. He is my buddy, my special friend.

And for three years, I have been praying for his family.

I prayed for a mother and father who would love Jesus. I prayed that they would be tender and loving, understanding of his needs, devoted to their family. And I prayed that he would have a big brother.

Two weeks ago, I met his mother and father… and his big brother and sister. The mother is gentle and firm. The father is warm and loving. They are devoted to their children, solid, consistent, beautiful. And they love Jesus.

Three years ago, almost to the month, they began the process that would lead them to this little boy.

My God answers prayer on behalf of His little ones.

I don’t know what is standing in your way, what doubts, what fears you might have.

But I know my God is bigger.

I believe that every believer has a role to play in caring for His little ones, a way of reflecting His heart beat whether it is praying for little ones, supporting adoptive families, caring for His little ones, welcoming them into your life. Where do you fit? Where can you join?

And maybe you are not yet praying for someone. Maybe adoption has not even crossed your mind. Maybe you just aren’t ready.

But maybe someone is getting ready for you.

Maybe, someone is praying for you. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Because My Hero Doesn't Wear a Cape

I almost lost you this year.

I know that every minute is a risk and a second chance to begin again. I know that in a moment everything could change.

But, then again, I like to live forgetting that reality. I prefer the dream world where you are always there and I never have to worry that you will leave.

So, when you get the email that says to call, and panic starts to set in with every ring, and I hold my breath until I hear the words “He’s going to be okay”, the dream world comes crashing down.

I don’t like to let anyone know when I cry, especially you. Because I don’t want you to worry I am breakable. I want you to know I am strong, and you can rest at night knowing I am ok. I can take care of myself.

But the tears did fall. It so easily could have been “Come home” instead of “He’s ok” on the other line.

But you’re okay, and you’re still here.

I don’t know if you ever truly realize how much you need someone until you are forced to imagine life without him.

I may be a 23 year old woman with a Bachelor’s Degree and living on the other side of the world, but I still need you.

We don’t talk every day, but there are moments when all I want is just to hear the sound of your voice. I don’t have to be with you, but I know you are present. I know wherever I am in the world, you will drop everything to come and find me if I need you.

No one can give guidance and direction like you can. I know I can trust your words implicitly.

No one else can explain the depths and mysterious workings of football to me as well as you can.

No one else leads with such humility and compassion.

No one else has the servant heart you do.

No one’s laugh brings a smile to my face like yours, and no one can make me laugh like you do.

No one prays for me like you do.

No one’s voice is as comforting, as beautiful as yours.

I’ve always said that one of the qualities I look for in a man is someone who makes me feel safe, and it’s because of you. No one else makes me feel as safe as you.

No one can make me cry like you do. God help us if I ever get married. You and I will need a continuous supply of jokes because if you start to cry, then I will lose it.

I have had to learn how to trust God in deeper ways this year. I have had to trust Him to meet my needs, to protect the people I love, to protect me.

As I have watched you in the past year, I have learned by example what it means to trust and how to live it out.

I don’t know where the next year will take our family. I know what I want to happen, but I also know that I can rest, trusting that He is greater, He is stronger, and He is good.

At least, that is what you have taught me.

I can’t wait to see what will happen as our family continues to live in radical faith, diving deeper into what it means to follow Him. You lead by example, and we can follow.

I am always asked why I have brown eyes. I smile and say, “I got them from my Dad”.

You make me want to do better, to be better. Not because you are a slave driver or harsh, but because when you know you are truly loved, you want to honor the person who loves you. You make me set my standards higher, to wait for a man who will let you breathe a sigh of relief.  You encourage me to be my best, and you are there to rejoice with me in the moments of joy.

I hope your day is special. Please try and enjoy as people pour their love into you. I know attention makes you uncomfortable, but it would be a shame to miss an opportunity to someone who means so much to so many.

Especially to the woman who shares your name and the four who share your chromosomes (and sense of humor).

Especially to me.

I love you so much. Remember, even when I am a 53 year old cat lady, I will still need you.

You are my heart.

Love, Big J

“It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desire He gives.”
                                                                        ~Amy Carmichael

Friday, August 2, 2013

Am I Worth It?

       This is an article I wrote for a friend that appeared in her magazine "One Voice", a small magazine circulating in Manila. The theme of the magazine was "Love", and she asked me to give thoughts on whether or not girls should pursue guys. So, this is the result:

Am I Worth It?
Going past the surface and getting to the heart.
      “I just don’t understand. Why don’t boys like me?” I complained to my friend as we sat on her couch, eating cookies and spending another Valentine’s Day alone.

       I was a junior in college. I was active in my campus ministry, had great friends, lived on my own, was successful in school, and my acne had finally cleared. By all appearances, I had it all together.

       However, I still did not have the one thing my heart truly craved… connection to another human being, a relationship, love. Call it what you want, but I had none of it. It wasn’t that I had offers and the men weren’t eligible. No one was asking, and as I looked into the future, my prospects were grimmer than ever.

      This left me alone on yet another Valentine’s night and contemplating the reasons for being alone.

       “Jordan, I think the reason why boys are not interested is because you act like you don’t need them,” my dear friend lovingly responded.


         “My mom always told me that guys want to be needed, to feel like they are a necessary part of your life. You’re pretty independent, and that can be really intimidating for guys”.

           I don’t remember much about the rest of the evening, but her advice is something that has always stuck with me.

           And it’s something I have struggled with ever since because it wasn’t the first time I have been given such advice.

           I was raised to believe that boys are the initiators and girls are the responders. My parents and youth leaders drilled into my mind that boys want girls who wait for them to be the men in the relationship and take a stand. I was never allowed to call boys, text them, email them, or even send them letters via pigeons. For most of my childhood, I believed my parents and waited for the right guys to come… the guys who would be impressed by my patience.

            But those boys never pursued me. The boys I liked always ended up liking my friends… seriously, it became an epidemic. As I watched these girls, the way they interacted with boys, the way they always seemed to have someone (including the boys I liked), I began to wonder… just what was wrong with me?

            Because, according to my parents, youth leaders, etc., these girls shouldn’t have gotten the boys. They were the girls who made the first move, the girls who called first, the girls who gave their numbers and initiated the texting conversation. They flirted, they made their desires blatantly obvious to everyone within a ten kilometer radius… and, they were never alone.

            This trend didn’t end in high school, but obviously continued until college. A few guys here and there pursued me, but they didn’t reflect the kind of guy I wanted… a guy who would pursue me because he liked me. Not because of what he could gain from me, but because I was worth it.

            And I think that is what it all boils down to…. Because regardless of what you believe about whether or not a girl should call a boy, when she can say she’s interested, who should make the first move, blah, blah, blah… there is a very important issue that must first be addressed before any relationship can take place.

            I want a boy to pursue me because I want someone to believe I am worth it. I am worth the time, the effort, the potential heartbreak, and the risk that this could be the beautiful start of a lifelong love.

            And therein lies the heart issue… Why do I need a boy to pursue me in order to validate my worth?

            Because that’s what we are taught, isn’t it, from the earliest stages of childhood. Our Disney movies gave us princesses who dreamed of love and were unsatisfied until the prince arrived to complete their happiness. We began wearing makeup, planning each outfit with intense scrutiny, and analyzed every pore on our face, every curve of our bodies in order to be enough.

            Beautiful enough, pretty enough, smart enough, confidant enough, good enough for them, the boys who would one day pursue us.

            And some of us grow tired of waiting. We try everything, and still he hasn’t come, so instead, we begin the pursuit. After all, this is the age of feminism and independence. Why wait when I can just get take matters into my own hands?

            This method may work. By calling, texting, flirting, making your intentions obvious to him and everyone else, you might get the guy. But will he be the one your heart dreams about, the one who is willing to believe you are worth the effort? Will he stick around when life gets hard, the makeup fades, and the wrinkles set in with time? Probably not. Because the guy worth waiting for is the one who will pursue, reflecting the image of Jesus as He pursues us.

            It has taken me a long time to realize this, and to be honest, it’s not always easy to keep believing. I see the people around me happy and in relationships, and I can’t help but want that for myself.

            But I am not pursuing. Instead I am waiting. Why? Because I am worth the effort.

            Because 2,000 years ago, Jesus decided I was worth the effort. He decided that I was worth every risk, every heart ache, every moment of pain because the struggle would be worth it.

            And you, dear friend, are worth it. Even if you are unhappy with the curves or shape of your body. Even if you may not be the smartest, the prettiest, etc., you have value in the eyes of Jesus. You are worth every ounce of His precious blood, and He believes you are worth the wait, worth His very best (which may be different from your idea of best). He knows you deeper than you know yourself, and He knows the desires of your heart.

            He is the ultimate pursuer. My worth does not revolve around whether or not another human being finds me desirable. It is not based on the opinions of others. My identity does not rest in a Facebook status or relationship label. Instead, my identity and my worth is found in Jesus Christ, and because He fought and won my heart, then I will wait for someone who will do the same. It may mean that I spend more Valentine’s Days single, more Friday nights alone. But that’s okay. Because He is worth it… so am I, and so are you.